Congress

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Freshman Republican Rep. John Katko isn’t backing the president’s plan for free community college, but he says it’s a discussion worth having.

President Barack Obama proposed a free Associates Degree for community college students in his State of the Union address last night.

"Can we afford that? I don’t know. But should we talk about the affordability of college for people on a general matter? Absolutely. And I think there’s something there we can work with," said Katko, the congressman for central New York, afterward.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

How does Congressman John Katko suggest improving the productivity rate of the House of Representatives? By trying really hard.

Rep. Katko (R-Camillus) sees his role as a congressman to both write laws and assist residents of his central New York district. Katko begins his job as the representative of New York’s 24th Congressional District at a time when Washington has enacted a historically low number of laws.

Connectologist / via Flickr

Newly sworn-in Rep. John Katko has already attached his name to an effort to repeal the medical device tax.

The tax on medical equipment manufactured in the United States was tacked on to the Affordable Care Act as a way to pay for the health care overhaul. But it’s angered device makers, like Welch Allyn in Skaneateles. The company attributed recent layoffs to the tax’s impact.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Syracuse-area Rep.-elect John Katko’s congressional committee assignments will put him in a place to see a lot of action as the 114th Congress opens in January.

Katko got the assignments he wanted on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Homeland Security Committee. There will be a lot going on in the area of transportation, as the highway bill and the Federal Aviation Administration bill will expire soon. He will also be involved in discussions over the reconstruction of Interstate 81 through Syracuse.

Katko prepares for first term in Congress

Dec 29, 2014
John Katko/Facebook

There won’t be much change going from candidate John Katko to Rep. Katko after the Republican takes the oath of office in Washington, D.C. next month. The representative-elect expects the campaign style that led him to a 20-point win over incumbent Democrat Rep. Dan Maffei in November will be the model for his congressional career.

For former federal prosecutor Katko, that means plenty of town hall meetings, tele-town halls, social media, and just plain getting around.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Utica-area Rep. Richard Hanna will start his third term in Congress in January. But the 114th Congress will be a different dynamic for the 22nd Congressional District Republican.

First, Hanna will have two new congressional representatives in neighboring districts. Gone are Democrats Rep. Dan Maffei  and Rep. Bill Owens. In their place are freshman Republicans John Katko in the Syracuse-centric 24th Congressional District, and Elise Stefanik in the North Country's  21st District.

Hanna says he already given some advice to the newcomers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO/file photo

United States Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is supporting the nearly $1 trillion omnibus spending bill now under consideration in Congress. One reason is the inclusion of money that will help municipalities fix broken sewer systems.

Schumer says negotiators were able to lock $1.4 billion in the final budget bill for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund that offers municipalities grants or loans to fix sewers.  

Heather L / via Flickr

A move to designate the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn as a National Historical Park is nearing reality.

The proposal has been attached to the Defense Authorization Bill that Congress has to approve every year. Sen. Chuck Schumer told reporters Wednesday he was very pleased the New York congressional delegation was able to get the amendment included.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposal to change the way the military deals with sexual assault cases could come up for another vote in this month’s lame duck congressional session.

Gillibrand (D-NY) fell five votes short last spring of getting a bill passed that would overhaul military sexual-assault policies. But she says she wants to bring it up again, attaching it to a military authorization bill that has to be approved by the end of the year.  

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A year ago, John Katko of Camillus was a federal prosecutor, putting criminals behind bars. Today he is congressman-elect for central New York’s 24th Congressional District.

The Republican's first foray into politics has led to a stunning victory over two-term Rep. Dan Maffei, a Democrat.      

“Anybody want to know why I’m wearing a purple tie?" Katko asked, opening his victory speech. "It’s a combination of red and blue because we all got to get together." 

He vowed to keep the promise he made on the campaign trail to work with Democrats in Washington.

Bernt Rostad / Flickr

Upstate New York lawmakers are asking you to put them back in office, but how effective have they been?  

You probably will not be surprised to hear this Congress is the least active in the nation’s history. In the past two years, they have passed 181 bills that were signed into law by the president. Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, does not rate it very highly.

“This is an embarrassing and miserable Congress. Really one of the worst I've ever seen,” Ornstein says.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Republican congressional hopeful John Katko is criticizing Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei’s legislative record from his two terms in Congress as part of the latest salvo in a race that is getting tighter, according to some national political pundits.

During a news conference this week, Katko, a former prosecutor, pointed to a list of legislation Maffei has introduced in the 113th Congress.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Rep. Richard Hanna, a Republican, is backing the president’s plan to try to root out an Islamic extremist group in the Middle East.

"I think there are some things in life you don’t have a choice," he said. "These people have declared what they mean, what they intend to do, through many different type of media and I think we have to take it very seriously."

Hanna, a moderate conservative from the Utica area, says the fight against the Islamic State militant group, or ISIS, should be taken to them, before it comes here.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO/file photo

With election season here, escaping the volley of political ads that are the hallmark of political campaigns will only get harder. In response, New York Democrat Charles Schumer is helping lead a fight in the Senate to force outside groups funding those ads to disclose their donors.

The Citizens United Supreme Court decision dismantled the campaign finance reform known as the McCain-Feingold Act. Wealthy donors, unions and corporations can now dump millions of dollars into political campaigns, seemingly in secret.

Keith Allison / via Flickr

An effort led by the Oneida Indian Nation to have Washington D.C.'s professional football team change its name has gained more support from members of Congress.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., sent a letter Monday to NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell urging the league to take a stand for the Washington Redskins to change its team name.

Despite the national "do not call" list, the number of telemarketer violations has tripled in New York state.

Sen. Charles Schumer says that likely has to do with companies using computer-generated robocalls to target households.

Schumer has introduced a new bill, called the QUIET Act, that he says will strengthen penalties against companies that violate the rules. He says new technology is allowing robocallers to skirt the current laws.

"The robocall industry is blatantly ignoring federal laws, so we have to fight fire with fire," Schumer said.

Maffei, Hanna positive about State of the Union

Jan 29, 2014

Central New York congressmen are generally reacting positively to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Fellow democrat and Syracuse-area representative Dan Maffei said he agrees with the president that Washington should focus on creating new jobs and expanding economic opportunities.

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New York Sen. Charles Schumer says it’s “a good day” for upstate New York farmers now that there is a deal in the House of Representatives and Senate for a Farm Bill.

Congress is expected to begin voting on the bill later today. The five year farm bill, agreed upon in committees on Monday, reduces crop subsidies and increases crop insurance.

Farm Bills were first written during the Great Depression. This latest one took two years of negotiation.

Schumer, a Democrat, says the bill is especially good for small dairy farmers and maple sugar tappers in New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Syracuse-area Congressman Dan Maffei is introducing legislation to crack down on people tampering with electronic probation devices and to hold federal probation offices more accountable.

Maffei is introducing the Federal Probation System Reform Act, which he says will make it a federal crime to tamper with an electronic monitoring device, and establish a nationwide standard for responding to bracelet alerts.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Rep. Dan Maffei told constituents Tuesday evening he shares in their frustration over the federal government's shutdown, saying there will be serious consequences if it drags on.

The Democrat from Syracuse even agreed with one caller's claim that Congress' inability to act was "disgusting."

Maffei voted with House Republicans late Monday night for a spending plan that would have, if the Senate had approved it, delayed the individual mandate portion of Obamacare for a year. While trying to strike a bipartisan note, Maffei laid more blame on the G.O.P. than his own party.

Brookings Institution

What's the problem with Congress?  Why can't it find compromises on the most basic issues?  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher explores those questions with Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the co-author of "It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional Syst

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said threats in Congress to defund Obamacare won’t have any effect on the federal Affordable Health Care Act going forward in New York.

Cuomo said even if Congress is gridlocked over funding for the federal health care act, New York will still be going ahead on Oct. 1 with the required health care exchanges.

 “The health exchange is up and running,” Cuomo said on a trip to Niagara Falls. “I don’t believe there’s going to be any effect on the state.”

Hanna, Owens support delaying vote on Syria

Sep 12, 2013

The ongoing civil war in Syria is dominating the discussion in Washington this week.  Rep. Richard Hanna, who represents an area from Utica to Binghamton, was one of many congressmen who received a classified briefing on Syria.

He said the U.S. should be looking at the Russian proposal for Syria to give up its chemical weapons, fairly, but also with some skepticism. Hanna, a Republican, said going to war again is not the best option.

Maffei, Owens talk about upcoming Syria vote

Sep 5, 2013
Ellen Abbott / WRVO file photo

While Congress prepares to vote on whether or not to take military action against Syria, two local members of Congress are still considering all the facts. Syracuse-area Democrat Dan Maffei says he is looking at the big picture, but says he still has questions that need to be answered, including how it will impact American service members.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

President Obama will be in Buffalo, Syracuse and Binghamton next week to discuss his plan for reducing college costs, but Rep. Dan Maffei hopes the president makes a stop in Auburn, too.

Gino Geruntino/WRVO

Local fire departments and non-affiliated EMS organizations are learning how to apply and qualify for federal grants at a series of grant writing workshops held by Rep. Dan Maffei. Those funds can be used to pay for needed equipment, recruiting or vehicles.

Heather L / via Flickr

More than 100 people walked an Auburn street this weekend to help unveil a highway sign commemorating the work of abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The walk is part of an effort to put Tubman’s home one step closer to becoming a national park.

Harriet Tubman’s great-grandniece Geraldine Copes-Daniels of Auburn believe her ancestor is long overdue for national recognition.

“Tonight we’re trying to do what she did, but hers was a longer way…People of today don’t realize what she’s done,” said Copes-Daniels.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says she voted against a recent compromise on student loans because the interest rates shouldn’t be tied to market rates.

Congress let interest rates on government subsidized student loans double on July first to nearly seven percent. Last week lawmakers worked out a deal to allow rates to be tied to 10 year Treasury notes. That temporarily lowered the rates again.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

New York's senior U.S. senator says the compromise on student loans Congress is scheduled to take up on Tuesday is a good one, even if it's not exactly what he wanted.

Interest rates on government issued subsidized student loans doubled on July 1, after Congress failed to renew the program. But late last week, several lawmakers announced a compromise that will bring rates back down, at least for now.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO file photo

When Mahlon Irish became a Homer volunteer firefighter in 1974, it was common for 60 people to head out to a fire. Now, it can be difficult to get the 12 firefighters national standards call for to a working blaze. The decline in the number of volunteers through the years is blamed on many things -- from extensive training required to changing family dynamics. But the expense of being a volunteer is also an issue, says Irish, using the cost of gasoline as an example.

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